Thanksgiving weekend certainly started out interestingly with Brandon’s first snowfall… which turned into a storm rather quickly.
On Wednesday, a Colorado low-weather system moved into Manitoba from the United States. It has wreaked havoc by downing power lines and tree limbs across the province, from the southwest corner into the Red River Valley and northwest toward Berens River and into Saskatchewan. Meanwhile Brandon didn’t get hit by the worse of the storm until Friday.
Before that we only had a little snow that barely covered the still very green grass. Now, on Monday October 15th, Thanksgiving Day, we have a thick layer of snow covering our lawns and roads.
Power outages across Manitoba became an issue through out the storm and still is in some areas. Despite the efforts by Manitoba Hydro, the number of customers without power was up and down Friday. By 7 p.m. Friday night, Manitoba Hydro reported almost 50,000 customers were in the dark with roughly 14,000 outages in Winnipeg alone. That's as wet snow and gusty winds take a toll on tree branches and the powerlines.
Brandon wasn’t as badly affected as the Winnipeg area. The state of emergency declared Saturday by the Premier, allows Manitoba Hydro to invoke its ‘mutual aid’ agreements with neighbouring Canadian and U.S. utilities for support and additional materials such as poles, overhead wires, and equipment. This is the first time Manitoba Hydro has asked for mutual aid from other utilities and it is an indication of the unprecedented level of damage crews are discovering as they gain access to impacted areas of the province. The storm conditions also made it difficult for hydro workers to get to the areas affected.
The snow wasn’t easy to clear either. Interestingly enough, if it had been minus 20 degrees, the snow would have been easier to clear by plow but the weather over the past few days has been quite warm, just above or just below freezing which made the snow wet and dropping in clumps.
Water levels on Manitoba's Red River have been rising on both sides of the Canada and U.S. border and are now higher than they have been since record keeping began back in 1971. For the first time ever in the fall season, the Red River Floodway has been put into use with the heavy rainfall amounts expected through the weekend and into the week.
This unusual early winter storm has created a number of issues and closed almost all highways but by Thanksgiving many highways have reopened, roads have been plowed and many have had their power restored.
And that is something to truly be thankful for.